Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday 13th August



I've been promising clams for the end of the week. I always assumed these amandes de mer (above) were a luxury version, judging by their size and glossiness, and that the price might be per clam.  But looking closer, it really was per kilo, and they really were about eight times cheaper than these palourdes



from the bay of Mont St Michel.  (I think they're known as carpetshell clams elsewhere).  

The amandes really were absurdly cheap, so I bought rather a lot of them.  They turned out to be  dog cockles, which are scarcely considered worth eating in some parts of the world, though they are a plentiful, sustainable source of protein, largely a by-catch, and so really just the kind of thing we should be eating.   However, there's a reason they are not considered a delicacy, delicate does not really describe them, they rival whelks for, er, robustness of texture, and they were rather hard work. But the magic trick of steaming shellfish and watching them pop open like Chinese water flowers (I haven't seen those for a long time...), the alchemy of the court bouillon made from the tail end of some cheap rosé and the stalks of the parsley, lemon thyme and fennel which went into the garlic and herb butter I stuffed them with, and mopping up the juices with crusty bread, were all rather wonderful, and the real palourdes were delectably tender by comparison.  

Also there was ...

this French food blog I found looking for advice and recipes as to how to cook them.  French foody stuff doesn't usually do much for me, for a variety of reasons, but this is lovely, cheerful and quirky and original, though it's more fussing over food and  wine knowledge than I can aspire to, it's a nice place to wander.

Then there was 

~ the Viognier we drank with it.  I like a nice Viognier very much and will drink it with pretty much anything.  This was an Ardeche one, as were the first VDP ones I came across, but it was labelled  Indication Geographique Protegee, which I'd never seen before but apparently it's just a European version of VDP.  In fact I have two whole bottles of real Condrieu which I got for my birthday last year and didn't drink then, and which I am too much in awe of and have wanted for too long to quite have the nerve to broach  now (or is it breach?).  But I get them out and look at them sometimes.  I've never tried a New World one - how would I have done?  

9 comments:

HLiza said...

Your clams have lovely shell design..I feel like collecting them! The species we normally eat here doesn't look that good but it tastes good anyway..

J Cosmo Newbery said...

They certainly look pretty!

Rouchswalwe said...

I've been following your entire week, sweet Lucy! Nice way to start the weekend with good food and drink. I have recently discovered Viognier. Fabulous in the summer with seafood.

Zhoen said...

As long as you are happy... as a clam.

Barrett Bonden said...

Before we bought the French house we used to tour France and we'd take our evening meals pretty seriously. Up to our room, drop off our bags, down to the bar, order a beer and ask for that evening's menu and the wine list. That way we weren't hassled. At one place in the south-west I noticed bulot as one of the options. I think I must have initially imagined it was boulot misspelled though how that would have fitted in I have no idea. The chef-proprietaire in his toque was floating around and I asked him what bulot was. Strangely (in France) he proved inarticulate and as he wrestled with his fingers I had to restrain myself from saying "Imagine you're on the phone to me." - my cruel way of forcing my daughters to find alternatives to "All right." and "Rubbish." Frustrated to the point of self-combustion he grabbed me by the arm, took me into the kitchen and showed me a whelk. We felt honour-bound to order them that evening and my judgement was roughly the same as yours. Mrs BB, born and brought up in Folkestone, was better prepared. I don't think I've ordered them since.

Condrieu. Perhaps half a dozen times during my mature years I've had £50 bottles of wine on the premises. I too have played the oenological version of Silas Marner and allowed myself to worry about what would be the most appropriate occasion. In fact, that occasion stole up on me. Younger Daughter was over with her (first) husband and I was looking to open a fourth bottle. My normal standards were relaxed - let's face it I was bladdered - and recklessly I took out the 1978 Limestone Ridge that had been a pebble in my shoe for months and sloshed it into all four glasses. It was superb but my reaction didn't matter. My daughter, whom I may or may not have primed, said it was the best wine she'd ever drunk. Which was true. Where I profited was that I can still remember the expression on her face while the taste of the wine has faded somewhat over the intervening two decades. Moral: people are more important than wine. However one cannot pre-engineer these occasions.

Plutarch said...

Thank you for mentioning Condrieu and Viognier in general. Although there is none in the house at the moment it was a vicarious pleasure to read about them in the context of clams, A good match indeed. And to pick up BB's reaction and recollection. Wine may not be as important as people, but the best wine is clearly important enough to enrich people's lives and even to change them.

earlybird said...

I think Vigonier goes particularly well with the sweetness of palourdes. I was positively salivating reading this post!

Lucy said...

Thanks dears, and for the vote of confidence on the Viognier, I feared someone might sneer, oh no, not with bivalves, really! Or similar.

I have been known to drag out special bottles on impulse when things are already under way, and have never regretted it, but indeed, one can't engineer the occasions.

Anonymous said...

What a treat to have you posting frequently like this. I looked at the photo of the dog cockles without reading at first, and at first I thought they were beautiful chocolates in the shape of shells (my favorite chocolate-maker makes those), and then I thought they were variegated-shell chestnuts (have never seen variegated-shell chestnuts, but being ignorant, I assume anything's possible), and then I realized they were clams. All in the space of a second or two. . . thank you.
- alison